A.J. Langguth has touched on a brilliant idea; now we need another Langguth to execute it masterfully. The idea is to have Jesus of Nazareth go through any number of eternal returns, generally a series of short scenes or sketches in both historical and contemporary settings, but with a timeless quality in the proceedings. There's a fly in the ointment, though: how should these many different Jesus Christs be treated? The author solves it unsatisfactorily: there's really only one Christ in his pages, a flat, possibly amiable, somewhat effete figure, surrounded by characters who are equally faint. Pilate, Caesar, the Apostles, cops and bigots, nasty salesgirls: Jesus confronts them all, and the underlying themes emerge--the relation between the mythic and the actual, the problematic nature of wisdom, the death of God. The exchanges are more like one-up-manship in Zen than the parables in the New Testament which Langguth airily subverts or rearranges. Langguth's intention is high, there are glimmers of fine conceits, but he lacks style, presence, bite.